Nora Dunn

Active - 1988 - 2020  |   Born - Apr 29, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Andrea LeVasseur

Comedic actress Nora Dunn has frequently played acerbic character roles in films and TV as foils to generally likeable leads. She was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1990, when she left due to the controversial episode with musical guest Sinead O'Connor and host Andrew Dice Clay. During her five-year run, she played several talk show hosts and was one of the Sweeney Sisters, along with Jan Hooks. She made her film debut in Mike Nichols' Working Girl (1988) as a jaded office worker, followed by Savage Steve Holland's How I Got Into College (1989) as an SAT coach. Her next few films were less successful: Stepping Out, Born Yesterday, and I Love Trouble. She turned back to TV and joined the cast of the NBC drama Sisters as the lesbian TV producer Norma Lear, followed by the CBS comedy The Nanny as Dr. Reynolds. In the late '90s, she had a few small yet funny roles in the more successful films The Last Supper, Bulworth, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and Three Kings. She also used her vocal talent to provide voices for the animated TV shows Futurama, The Wild Thornberrys, and Histeria! In 2001, she played the mom in Max Keeble's Big Move, a fashion designer in Zoolander, and Miss Madness in Heartbreakers. Her 2003 projects include the independent comedy Die Mommie Die, the Jim Carrey feature Bruce Almighty, and the romantic comedy Laws of Attraction.

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  • Is one of six children.
  • Originally wanted to be a painter.
  • Brother and fellow actor Kevin Dunn auditioned for Saturday Night Live and told them they needed to meet his sister; Nora was later hired but Kevin was not.
  • Was one of three cast members asked to return to Saturday Night Live following a poor 1985-86 season (Jon Lovitz and Dennis Miller were the other two).
  • Boycotted a 1990 Saturday Night Live episode hosted by comedian Andrew Dice Clay because she found his act offensive; left the show shortly afterward.
  • In 1991, authored a book titled Nobody's Rib.
  • Filmed scenes as a real-estate agent for the movie Father of the Bride Part II, but the part was cut from the final version of the film.